Westworld: I felt such a deep, abiding love for this show at the end of the pilot, my fingers were adding it to the season pass list while I was still trying to come to terms with what I’d watched. The themes are similar to the AMC show Humans, in which robots who look like people are given sentience and emotion and grapple with their own humanity. I like that show, too. Westworld is slightly more sci-fi, in that it takes place in a future we don’t recognize as our own (ironically, because it looks like the far past) and we already have an idea for the overall arc of the show and the end-game, because it’s based on a book and movie from 1973. But knowing sorta where it’s going doesn’t in any way diminish the journey. The show promises hidden depths for anyone willing to stick with it and pay attention, and thus far is keeping its word.
Timeless: Timeless could have been a great show, and kept the same first fifteen minutes. For those fifteen minutes, it looks like it might not be as cut-and-dried as it seems at first blush. The bad guy steals a time machine and goes back to… the Hindenburg disaster? Could he be trying to save everyone, altering the timeline that way? Our good guys have to kill 36 people to preserve the present as we know it? Who exactly is the good guy? Now that’s an interesting show. Unfortunately, it’s not Timeless. The bad guy is a bad guy, trying to save 36 so he can kill 45 more important people. Sure, they still manage to change the present in good ways and bad, but the show doesn’t seem interested in giving rhyme or reason to those changes. Really, I’d just suggest watching Legends of Tomorrow instead. I have a friend who works on that show, and they work hard over there to make it fun.
Frequency: This show is way better than it has any right to be. I really can’t find a way to describe the plot that makes it sound good. (I was thinking about how the inciting event – lightning hitting a ham radio – was such a trope that “lightning is magic” can be traced back to Zeus, but now we know how lightning works and how electricity works and there’s no magic in any of this and then I just got tired.) But it’s actually an emotionally charged (ha!) show, with serious consequences for its characters and a very clear mythology. It’s obvious, for instance, why Raimy’s fiance doesn’t know her after she alters the timeline, so it’s not like in Timeless when a character suddenly doesn’t have cancer because the Hindenburg didn’t crash quite the same way and there’s no connection. I’ll at least watch the first couple episodes to see if it keeps up.
Conviction: The reviews I’d read for this show all basically said that while Haley Atwell was very good in it, it’s not a good show. And it wasn’t as bad as all that. It’s a legal procedural, and I don’t know that I’m interested in seeing a microcosm of The Innocence Project every week, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not an audience that does want to see it or that it’s not a solid idea. The characters have maybe a bit too much backstory, but the show isn’t intensely interested in exploring that, so if you skip that last two-minute montage of each of them wrestling with what this case means for them personally, you should be good.
Insecure: I really like Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl so I was very excited for this show. I think I’ll need a couple weeks to get in sync with the rhythm of the show, but it definitely has its identity already and had a lot of really good things to say. You want to hug the character of Issa for your sake, not hers, and it seems totally believable that she’d shrug you off and tell you to fix your own problems, she has enough of her own. But I’ll let her rap her problems to me. Or my problems to me, as long as she keeps my name out of it.